Ingredient Substitutions for Common and Uncommon Ingredients
Making the Best of What You Have!
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Out of baking powder, milk, eggs, flour? Here is a long list of very common—and uncommon—ways to make that recipe work! When a craving gets you into the kitchen to do some cooking and you find that you’re missing one or two of the recipe’s ingredients, don’t despair. Look here!
Even uncommon or exotic ingredients can be substituted with others that are in your pantry, or with ones that are easier (and a lot less expensive) to get. For example, no bamboo shoots? Use asparagus. Need shallots? Red or Spanish onion do nicely. Out of tamarind juice? Combine 5 parts ketchup and 1 part vinegar.
Check below for other simple subs—and cook, eat, and enjoy!
→ Low on flour? Here are some baking ideas.
Common Ingredient Substitutions
Here are simple substitutions for basic cooking ingredients.
|Allspice||1 teaspoon||1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves|
|Arrowroot, as thickener||1 teaspoon||1 tablespoon flour; or 1 teaspoon cornstarch|
|Baking powder||1 teaspoon||1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar|
|Baking soda||1 teaspoon||4 teaspoons baking powder; or 1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon salt.|
|Bread crumbs||1 cup||1 cup cracker crumbs; or 1 cup matzo meal OR 1 cup ground oats|
|Brown sugar||1 cup||Add 1 tablespoon of molasses plus granulated sugar to make 1 cup|
|Butter, salted||1 cup||1 cup margarine; or 1 cup shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt; or 7/8 cup vegetable oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt|
|Butter, unsalted||1 cup||1 cup shortening OR 7/8 cup vegetable oil|
|Buttermilk||1 cup||1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup; or 1 cup plain yogurt|
|Chocolate, unsweetened||1 ounce||3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon unsaltedbutter (or shortening or vegetable oil)|
|Cracker crumbs||3/4 cup||1 cup dry bread crumbs; or 1 tablespoon quick-cooking oats (for thickening)|
|Cream, heavy||1 cup||3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup melted butter (this will not whip)|
|Cream, light||1 cup||7/8 cup milk plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter|
|Cream, sour||1 cup||7/8 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt plus 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter|
|Cream, whipping||1 cup||2/3 cup well-chilled evaporated milk, whipped; or 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder whipped with 1 cup ice water|
|Egg ||1 whole (3 tablespoons)||2 yolks plus 1 tablespoon cold water; or 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon water (for baking); or 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (for cakes); or 2 1/2 tablespoons of powdered egg substitute plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water, or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute; or half a banana mashed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder|
|Egg white||1 white||2 tablespoons meringue powder plus 3 tablespoons water, combined|
|Flour, all-purpose||1 cup||1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour (not advised for cookies or quick breads); or 1 cup self-rising flour (omit baking powder and salt from recipe).|
Reader suggestion: 5/8 cup potato flour; or 1–1/4 cups rye flour or coarsely ground whole-grain flour; or 1 cup cornmeal
|Flour, cake||1 cup||1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch|
|Flour, self-rising||1 cup||1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1–1/2 teaspoons baking powder plus 1/4 teaspoon salt|
|Garlic||1 small clove||1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or instant minced garlic|
|Herbs, dried||1/2 to 1 teaspoon||1 tablespoon fresh herbs, minced and packed|
|Honey||1 cup||1–1/4 cups sugar plus 1/2 cup liquid called for in recipe (such as water or oil); or 1 cup pure maple syrup|
|Ketchup||1 cup||1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon salt plus inch of ground cloves combined; or 1 cup chili sauce|
|Lemon juice||1 teaspoon||1/2 teaspoon vinegar|
|Lemon, juice and rind||1 lemon||3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon dried grated rind|
|Lemon rind, grated||1 teaspoon||1/2 teaspoon lemon extract|
|Mayonnaise||1 cup||1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt; or 1 cup cottage cheese (pureed)|
|Milk, skim||1 cup||1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk plus 3/4 cup water|
|Milk, to sour||1 cup||1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus milk to equal 1 cup. Stir and let stand 5 minutes.|
|Milk, whole||1 cup||1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water; or 3/4 cup 2 percent milk plus 1/4 cup half and half|
|Molasses||1 cup||1 cup honey or dark corn syrup|
|Mustard, dry||1 teaspoon||1 tablespoon prepared mustard less 1 teaspoon liquid from recipe|
|Oat bran||1 cup||1 cup wheat bran or rice bran or wheat germ|
|Oats, old-fashioned||1 cup||1 cup steel-cut Irish or Scotch oats|
|Oil, for baking||1/2 cup||½ cup of applesauce (keeps baked goods moist, but with less fat)|
|Onion, chopped||1 small||1 tablespoon instant minced onion; or 1 teaspoon onion powder; or 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion|
|Quinoa||1 cup||1 cup millet or couscous (whole wheat cooks faster) or bulgur|
|Sugar, dark brown||1 cup||1 cup light-brown sugar, packed; or 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 to 3 tablespoons molasses|
|Sugar, granulated||1 cup||1 cup firmly packed brown sugar; or 1–3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (but makes baked goods less crisp); or 1 cup superfine sugar|
|Sugar, light-brown||1 cup||1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoons molasses; or 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar|
|Sweetened condensed milk||1 can (14 oz.)||1 cup evaporated milk plus 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar. Combine and heat until sugar dissolves.|
|Tomatoes, canned||1 cup||1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water; or 1–1/3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, simmered|
|Tomato juice||1 cup||1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water plus dash each salt and sugar; or 1/4 cup tomato paste plus 3/4 cup water plus salt and sugar, to taste|
|Tomato ketchup||1/2 cup||1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves|
|Tomato puree||1 cup||1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water|
|Tomato soup||1 can (10–3/4 oz.)||1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water|
|Vanilla bean||1-inch bean||1 teaspoon vanilla extract or substitute bourbon, rum, or whiskey, using two times the amount of vanilla called for in the recipe.|
|Vinegar||1 teaspoon||1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice, or 2 teaspoons white wine|
|Vinegar, apple cider||—||malt, white-wine, or rice vinegar|
|Vinegar, balsamic||1 tablespoon||1 tablespoon red- or white-wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar|
|Vinegar, red-wine||—||white-wine, sherry, champagne, or balsamic vinegar. |
|Vinegar, rice||—||apple-cider, champagne, or white-wine vinegar|
|Vinegar, white wine||—||apple-cider, champagne, fruit (raspberry), rice, or red-wine vinegar|
|Wine||1 cup||1 cup chicken or beef broth; or 1 cup fruit juice mixed with 2 teaspoons vinegar; or 1 cup water|
|Yeast||1 cake (3/5 oz.)||1 package (1/4 ounce) or 1 scant tablespoon active dried yeast|
|Yogurt, plain||1 cup||1 cup sour cream (thicker; less tart) or buttermilk (thinner; use in baking, dressings, sauces)|
Substitutions for Uncommon Ingredients
Here is a list of substitutions for ingredients that are a little less common or can occasionally be hard to find.
|Balsamic vinegar—1 tablespoon||1 tablespoon red wine vinegar plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar|
|Bamboo shoots||Asparagus (in fried dishes)|
|Chayotes||Yellow summer squash or zucchini|
|Cilantro||Parsley (for color only; flavor cannot be duplicated)|
2–1/2 cups water plus 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut.
Combine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool. Mix in a blender for 2 minutes; strain. Makes about 2 cups.
|Delicata squash||Butternut squash or sweet potato|
|Green mangoes||Sour, green cooking apples|
|Habanero peppers||5 jalapeno peppers or serrano peppers|
|Italian seasoning||Equal parts basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme|
|Lemon grass||Lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon equals 2 stalks lemon grass)|
|Limes or lime juice||Lemons or lemon juice|
|Lo Mein noodles||Egg noodles|
— 1 cup
|3 tablespoons heavy cream plus 3/4 cup cream cheese plus 4 tablespoons butter|
|Neufchatel||Cream cheese or Boursin|
|Palm sugar||Light brown sugar|
|Rice wine||Pale, dry sherry or white vermouth|
|Red peppers||Equal amount pimientos|
|Romano cheese||Parmesan cheese|
|Saffron||Turmeric (for color; flavor is different)|
|Shallots||Red onions or Spanish onions|
|Shrimp paste||Anchovy paste|
|Tamarind juice||5 parts ketchup to 1 part vinegar|
Please let us know if we’re missing any substitutions that you’d like to see! Also, if you have other suggestions on ingredient substitutions (which you’ve personally tested successfully), please share in the comments below! Thank you!
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